By Tichaona Sibanda
Defence Minister and ZANU PF strongman Emmerson Mnangagwa was reportedly left stunned by the politburo’s unprecedented decision to disband the party’s District Coordination Committees.
The decision to ditch the grassroots structures was made in Mnangagwa’s absence, as he was reportedly on a working visit to China.
A highly placed source told SW Radio Africa that Mnangagwa’s rivals in the highest decision making body of the party took advantage of his absence. It is believed the Defence Minister was not consulted and had no input in the decision to dissolve the DCC’s, a situation his close aides say is ‘unacceptable.’
The politburo also had evidence that Mnangagwa used his influence and money to impose candidates on the electorate. His supporters argue that he’s not the only one to breach these rules as most senior members in the party were also guilty of using cash and influence to sway voters.
The party has in the last two months been divided into two distinct factions following the controversial DCC elections in May. It is understood that ZANU PF is clearly split between the Joice Mujuru brigade and the Mnangagwa cabal.
Since the elections Mnangagwa and Mujuru have intensified their fierce battle to succeed Robert Mugabe as the party leader and possibly president. The source told us Mnangagwa plans to table discussion on the DCC’s in the next politburo meeting.
Mnangagwa’s right hand man Owen Ncube, popularly known as ‘Mudha’, has told close friends the defence minister was left shocked by the decision and saw it as vendetta being waged against him by his rivals.
Mudha, who refers to Mnangagwa as ‘ED’ (short for Emmerson Dambudzo, his first names) has also told pals the 66 year-old politician is considering appealing the decision.
‘Mnangagwa’s camp is bitter; the guys are not taking it lightly; they think the decision will be reversed since it was passed when ED was away in China. But in the absence of a reversal ZANU PF must kiss any activism on the ground good bye,’ our source said.
The politburo decision came as a major blow to Mnangagwa because the camp supporting his bid to succeed Mugabe seized control of all the provinces after it won most of the DCC elections. Webster Shamu, the ZANU PF secretary for the commissariat, later nullified the results.
Shamu alleged the electoral process was marred by irregularities. But analysts believe the real reason behind the nullification of results and dissolution of the structures was to weaken Mnangagwa in the on-going tussle to succession that is tearing apart the former ruling party.
Although Mnangagwa is vying for the top party post ZANU PF does not believe that he appeals to the people. He was twice trounced by the MDC-T’s Blessing Chebundo in the KweKwe parliamentary elections. Most people in ZANU PF believe that close rival Vice-President Mujuru stands a better chance in a national election than Mnangagwa.
It therefore comes as no surprise that the party’s decision to disband the DCC’s has given a new lease of life to Mujuru’s faction which had suffered setbacks in most provinces during the recent restructuring exercise.
‘I think ZANU PF has realised that Mnangagwa stands no chance at all against Morgan Tsvangirai in a presidential poll. If Mnangagwa lost in two successive parliamentary elections against the MDC-T’s Chebundo, then God knows what will happen against a formidable Tsvangirai, who has beaten Mugabe in a poll before,’ our source added.
Political analyst Dr Maxwell Shumba said the move by the politburo to take such a bold decision in Mnangagwa’s absence shows his influence in the party is on the decline.
‘Mnangagwa is no longer a key man in ZANU PF and the fact that his rivals were able to gang up against him in the meeting to push for the disbandment of the DCCs shows his relevance is fast waning within the party. I don’t think that in the past such a decision would have been possible in his absence,’ Shumba said. SW Radio Africa